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Cloud hangs over CBC service expansion

The CBC’s announcement this week of further local service expansion will mean new local radio and online programming in London and Kitchener-Waterloo and additional local TV news in Edmonton, Ottawa, Halifax and St. John’s. The new programming is slated to be in place by next year and will involve the hiring of some 30 employees.

?We’re glad that CBC is committed to new and better local services,? says Marc-Philippe Laurin, president of the Guild’s CBC branch. ?We know relevant local programming is important to Canadians and we’re proud to be able to help deliver it.?

This new phase of expansion follows moves to introduce weekend local TV news in Toronto and Calgary (due to begin in October and February respectively), launch a new afternoon radio show for the interior of BC (due in Kelowna in October), and open a radio station in Kamloops (scheduled for April of next year).

The new programming is not being funded through an increase in the parliamentary appropriation but rather through the reallocation of existing CBC resources. This year’s retirement incentive program, for example, meant the elimination of positions in some areas to allow for the creation of new positions in others.

However, there are clouds on the horizon for CBC’s budget: the government has made no secret of the fact it is looking to cut at least $55 million from next year’s parliamentary appropriation. If that happens, it would inevitably affect some combination of existing programming and the planned expansion.

While it is entirely legitimate for the government to review spending on government programs, we hope — as we’ve said before — that the review is based on real ideas, not ideology. Two years ago, the government reviewed CBC’s budget and effectively endorsed the Corporation’s priorities by deciding to maintain the level of funding. Those priorities, including more local and digital programming, have not changed, as this week’s announcement demonstrates.

Guild volunteers will be on hand at this weekend’s Open Houses across the country to hand out flyers to the public to make them aware of the budget decisions soon to be made in Ottawa and the potential impact on the programming they enjoy. If you have a bit of time to give on Saturday, please get in touch with your Guild location unit president.

For more information, contact the Guild (info@cmg.ca) at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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